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A Dorico Adventure - Samulis - 10-16-2017

From time to time, I've looked at options for replacing my main workflow. For the most part, I have managed to shift from doing all of my work in Finale to doing concert composition in Finale and virtual composition in Sonar, which I have used for the better part of a decade as well, but to a much lesser extent until recently. So far, I like this arrangement, and with the addition of native 64-bit in Finale, I can even load heavy-hitter libraries in there without fearing (the 32-bit version was even a little anemic in facilities for VSCO 2 Pro!).

Well, there are a few other pieces of notation software out there. Aside from Sibelius, there's now Dorico as the new 'up and coming' one (everything else I've seen that is new is pretty much garbage for one reason or another, aside from perhaps Notion). So, I decided it would be in my best interest to give Dorico a try!

Here's how things went...

First, I hopped over to their site, looked things over, saw a video on someone using VST's like ARIA in there, everything looked great. So, I went to their 'try it out' page and got a nice box to enter my e-mail address, like every bit of other "freeware" or "trial" program out there (a.k.a. just whitewashed e-mail farming). Ok, fine, you can have my e-mail, Steinberg. After all, you developed VST, you guys seem to have a decent following and good software, what the heck.

So I waited a minute or so, then I got a link in my e-mail. "Follow this link to finish creating your account..." Uh oh... I have to make an account? Oh boy... when do they ask for the fingerprints and DNA sample?

So I follow the link, the account is created, I remove myself from their mailing list first thing.

Then I wait.

And keep waiting.

Still no download link.

I go through the whole 'request a trial' process again after 15 minutes of waiting (this was late at night and I was not in the mood to stay up all night waiting for an e-mail). Finally, I get an e-mail after 35 minutes of waiting: "Experience the Future of Scoring: You are Just One Step Away." Great! A link with an executable, this must be Dorico!

"Installing Steinberg Download Assistant" Ohhh boy...

"Do you want to install x random bloatware download manager?" Nope.

*3 minutes later*

I open up the new bloatware Download Assistant (I don't believe I need assistance clicking a link, Steinberg, thank you very much). Ok- there's Dorico, click the download link and... poof! Downloading an .exe, but what? It literally just opened a link for me in Chrome to the download. All that bloatware, account, bull, to open a link. XD

Oh look, there's their big 6 GB orchestral sample library for this, might as well try that out- start downloading that now, see where we are in a hour. Pretty nifty multi-part download scripty going on so you click one link and it downloads all the parts in a row.

Good, Dorico installer is down- let's give it a whirl, aaaandd "Installing Keylock Security Whatever" FUUUUUUUU-

There, installed your download assistant, DRM bull, and now do I get Dorico? Ah yes, good. Installing, installing... ah, there's Dorico!

Let's give her a whirl... ah, click a demo, hmm... will it work despite not having the symphony library installed yet? Maybe some GM output for me? Let's see... uh... no VST instruments? But... but... I have dozens!

A bit of reading later- Dorico is revolutionary in that it supports VST3! ... and ONLY VST3, unless you go through hell creating text files in your AppData, edit paths, and make sure your VST's are EXACTLY in the folders that Steinberg says you can put them (good grief, no way you can put them on, say, another drive! Unless you like mucking about undocumented XML files with your tongue to one side and every finger crossed at once). By the way, this information was not on their support page, but buried on the Steinberg help archive- only found via a google search. Their help was nebulous at best, especially compared to the stupidly massive and detailed Finale help section- as steep the learning curve, you can find info on every single bit of esoteric Finale functionality down to the file and function.

So okay, go through the joy of "hacking" Dorico so it will look for an and accept VST 2 and... nothing shows up, no matter if I did every single step they explained just perfectly.

  1. Why the heck isn't there a path selection system to decide where your VST's are?
  2. Why the heck are all VST 2's BLACKLISTED AUTOMATICALLY and have to be MANUALLY WHITELISTED one by one?
  3. Why the heck is one of your big updates for version 1.1 the addition of CHORD SYMBOLS?
Long story short... Dorico is far too early and "cuddly" to be useful for me yet, not to mention it seems like Steinberg wants to use it to force VST 3 and their archaic sampler and GPO-level sample sets down the throats of customers (why the heck else would they PENALIZE the USER for trying to use VST 2 plugins? Absolutely bonkers and horrible, horrible anti-consumer decision). It seems like they are taking the Apple approach to design- make it so the stupid, zombie-like user can't possibly hurt themselves or their system by limiting their choices and controls to the point that customization beyond aesthetics and frills is null. "If they can't reroute where the VST's are located, they can't e-mail us complaining they can't find the VST's," is what I assume their logic is.

In Finale, if I want to do something, I KNOW there's a setting I can tick somewhere deep down hidden in a context menu designed in 1998 that will make it happen; if there's a will, there's a way. In Dorico, if it isn't in the puny and widely useless "preferences" or assumed "typical" uses/actions that they have thought of so far, you're stuck trying to row up shit creek without a paddle. It's like it doesn't want me to do certain things. Then they get all preachy about how it can do so many things that other notation software can't... when at the end of the day, they're still slowly adding baseline, necessity features that they ignored or forgot in the first place.

So... cancelled that 6 GB sample library download that still hadn't even gotten halfway through by this point... uninstalled Dorico... deregistered the key... uninstalled the bloatware key manager... uninstalled the bloatware download assistant... and unsubscribed from the mailing list. Sorry, Dorico. If I can't use remotely decent sample libraries in your application or configure it to scan MY chosen location for VST's rather than some prescribed place only revealed to me by digging through XML files, then it is of zero use to me.

This kind of stuff pisses me off. I would have probably bought their software happily if they supported VST 2 and had a nice, simple download link that downloaded Dorico straight like any remotely consumer-savvy company. Instead, they made me download not one but TWO pieces of bloatware, register an account, and sign up for their e-mail list in order to get even a BASIC idea of if I wanted their software or not. Every single roadblock I had to clear was another opportunity for me to give up, and I could see someone a heck of a lot tech savvy than me struggling very much with the process (based on my experiences of having multiple times had to explain the concept of copying and pasting to customers with relation to installing a VST plugin). Now I doubt I will try this software again for AT LEAST a year or two (although I doubt they will change their anti-consumer attitude, being part of a major company).

I was so ticked off, I figured I needed to cheer myself up... so I popped open the good ol' Cakewalk Download Manager, which I had to create a Cakewalk account to download, and saw all the great free updates they have for my cybernetic mind contro-, I mean, copy of Sonar. At least this download manager actually both downloads and installs the applications itself with no installers outside of it! Now to go refuel my power reserves at the local power distribution cente- I mean, fast food restaurant. Ah, isn't freedom from big brother so wonderful? Or is it all just... the same...


Anyone else have a similarly "fun" experience trying to try out or use a piece of software?

RE: A Dorico Adventure - Mattias Westlund - 10-17-2017

That is just... wow, I don't know what to say. Sadly this isn't anything uncommon in the modern day DAW/plugin/sample lib world, i.e. having to jump through hoops to even get the software running in the first place. I have had several experiences similar to yours but unfortunately I don't recall all the details (needless to say, if a company requires me to go through all that shit only to try out their product, well I'm not interested). One that stands out in my mind is Waves and their insane installation procedures where you need to install 1) their download manager/registration software crap --
which was finicky to begin with -- and 2) on top of that you can't install the plugins wherever you want, no, they can only be installed to the default location and then you need to copy (IIRC) some sort of Waves plugin wrapper .dll to your normal vstplugins dir in order to make their plugins work. TBH I'm not going to go through all that to use a bunch of overpriced plugins based on 2002 code that live on thanks to brand name and nothing else, thank you very much. I just don't bother with Waves stuff anymore.

There are other examples as well; IK Multimedia has some irritating stuff going on when it comes to licensing and downloads. Ironically though Pace/iLok -- probably the most maligned software protection suite in the history of digital music making -- works pretty smoothly these days.

Generally I try to avoid stuff that requires more than a serial number/key file. Otherwise I know it will come around and bite me in the ass at some point in the future -- like, say, when developer X files for bankruptcy or gets bought out by a bigger corporation that just flat out cancels their entire product line -- and their activation servers start going offline. It happened to Gigastudio, it happened to Alchemy, and it will happen again.